Etch A Sketch's Stock Soars on Romney Aide's Gaffe
Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney's senior aide, is probably regretting his now infamous "Etch A Sketch" remark, but the folks that make the toy, Ohio Artsure aren't.
Ohio Art's shares, which trade over the counter in thin volume, soared well over 100 percent on Thursday and at one point reached a 52-week high.
"It kind of caught us by surprise," said Larry Killgallon, president of Ohio Art, the manufacturer of the Etch A Sketch, in an interview with CNBC.com. He came back from a trip to Chicago to be greeted by a deluge of emails about the incident.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Fehrnstrom said: "Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart it all over again.”
Romney's opponents seized on the thought that Romney's positions on issues could be erased with a shake, just like images drawn an Etch a Sketch.
Overnight, the classic toy had became the part of the buzz in the "Twitter-verse" and other social media as well as the focus of debate on television and radio talk shows.
For the moment, Ohio Art is savoring the attention, and watching what happens, but Killgallon doesn't expect it to significantly increase the company's product sales. Spring is a slow time for the toy business, and so far retailers are reporting only a slight increase in sales.
"It will be interesting to see how it develops," Killgallon said. Although it would be nice if Etch A Sketch stayed in the spotlight through the convention and into November — when toy sales traditionally heat up — he said, "like all news cycles it will run its course."
"But I hope having Etch a Sketch as part of the debate brings a little fun into the discussion and if it gets more people out to vote, even better," he said.
Still, Toys 'R Us, the nation's largest toy retailer, told CNBC that sales are "up significantly" this week.
"Etch A Sketch sells well all year long, both in-store and online," said Kathleen Waugh, a Toys 'R Us spokeswoman. "A classic toy, it has enduring popularity.
Even with the jump in Ohio Art's stock, the company's market cap is only about $8.5 million, and less than 1,000 shares have exchanged hands.